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Villanova vs. USC: 3 Keys to victory

Gregory Shamus

A Thanksgiving trip to the Bahamas sounds pretty good right? It is not a vacation, it is however, a chance to really show the country that this team is for real. The undefeated Villanova Wildcats departed for the Bahamas on Tuesday, and will take on the 4-1 USC Trojans in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament at 1 pm ET on Thanksgiving.

Reports say that Dylan Ennis could be on the verge of making his Wildcat debut. After transferring from Rice and sitting out all of last year, Ennis was excited to finally get a chance to play again. However, things came to a halt as he broke his hand in a practice in late October. Ennis was able to practice the last couple of days and plans to practice Wednesday as well.

"It’s feeling good," Ennis told Philahoops. "I’m getting back in the groove of things, but it’s feeling good."

Coach Wright will have the final say on Ennis' playing status.

"I’m practicing, going through everything, and it’s going to be Coach’s decision, he’s going to talk to me and everything like that, and we’ll decide when the game comes," Ennis told Philahoops.

Keys to victory against USC

Contain Byron Wesley

The 6' 5" junior guard has been a starter for the Trojans ever since he stepped on campus. He has been asked to take on a bigger role now that his counter part, J.T. Terrell has been declared ineligible for academic reasons. Wesley is averaging 20 points and 9 rebounds per game, both which lead the team. He also leads the team in shot attempts with 77 in 5 games, (avg 15). He, like the rest of the team, struggles from deep and would prefer taking it to the rim. In USC's lone loss to Utah State, Wesley shot just 6-18 from the field and 0-4 from 3. The Trojans play at their best when he is playing at the top of his game. He is the engine that makes them go. To frustrate Wesley, Villanova's perimeter defenders should sag off Wesley, taking away his dribble drive and force him into taking a shot from 3 that he is not comfortable taking.

Interior play

The Trojans present a ton of size, something Villanova hasn't seen much of yet this year. USC has a couple of very skilled international post players. Omar Oraby, a 7' 2" big from Egypt, is averaging just under 14 points and 8 rebounds a game. Oraby actually played with Dylan Ennis in 2011-2012 at Rice before transferring after the 2011-2012 season. When Oraby needs a breather, 1st year head coach, Andy Einfield will bring in 6' 10" freshman Nikola Jovanovic from Serbia. Jovanovic can play in the post, but can also knock down shots from deep. On the season, he is averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes per contest.

Both players will present a challenge for Daniel Ochefu on both ends of the floor. Ochefu has been phenomenal on the defensive end this season, and should be able to limit both these players to a certain extent. However, based on recent production, you shouldn't expect much offensively from him. Ochefu will have to stay out of foul trouble, because if he doesn't, USC will dominate the interior.

Shot Selection for the Wildcats.

Villanova needs to be smarter with their shot selection. It is becoming a cliche for this team. They are taking around 22 3's per game which is way too many, especially for a team that is shooting 25% from beyond the arch. That is not a good recipe for success. While the 3's will hopefully begin falling at a better clip, Villanova should be attacking the rim at a more frequent pace.

X-Factor

JayVaughn Pinkston will be the x-factor in this match-up. The junior from Brooklyn, NY is playing exceptionally well early on. When the offense can't get anything going, they feed Pinkston and he often produces. He is the leading scorer for the Wildcats at 20 points a game and is shooting just under 57% from the field.

Prediction

Hopefully the Wildcats don't look ahead to their next potential opponent Kansas. They need their full focus on the Trojans of USC. Some are viewing this as a classic "trap game." Villanova has to take it one game at a time in this tournament, and I think they will do that. Villanova wins 75-61 and will advance to play the winner of Iowa/Kansas.

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